A high-efficiency DC-DC boost converter for a miniaturized microbial fuel cell

Xu Zhang, Hao Ren, Soonjae Pyo, Jae Ik Lee, Jongbaeg Kim, Junseok Chae

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


This paper presents a high-efficiency dc-dc boost converter to interface a miniaturized 50 μL microbial fuel cell (MFC) having 1 cm2 vertically aligned carbon nanotube anode and 1 cm2Cr/Au cathode. Geobacteraceae-enriched mixed bacterial culture in growth medium and 100 mM buffered ferricyanide solutions are used as the anolyte and catholyte, respectively. The miniaturized MFC produces up to approximately 10 μW with an output voltage of 0.4-0.7 V. Such low voltage, which is also load dependent, prevents the MFC to directly drive low power electronics. A pulse-frequency modulation type dc-dc converter in discontinuous conduction mode is designed and implemented to address the challenges and provides a load independent output voltage with high conversion efficiency. The fabricated dc-dc converter in UMC 0.18 μm has been tested with the MFC. At 0.9 V output, the converter has a peak efficiency of 85% with 9 μW load.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6814297
Pages (from-to)2041-2049
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE Transactions on Power Electronics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015


  • DC-DC power converters
  • Energy efficiency
  • Fuel cells
  • Integrated circuits
  • Switching converters

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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